Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mississippi Kite

One of my favorite birds is the Mississippi Kite. They are in the same family as hawks, eagles, harriers, ospreys, etc. Mississippi Kites are raptors - predators - and feed mainly on larger insects like grasshoppers and dragonflies. They can also occasionally take larger prey such as bats, swifts, and swallows. The Mississippi Kite is likely the one raptor that will casually eat in flight. The first thing you may notice is their black "mask" against a light gray head and body.

The panhandle is part of the Mississippi Kite's breeding grounds. Many people have complained about them "attacking" them while walking down a sidewalk. They are not aggressive towards humans. When nesting, the Mississippi Kite can be very defensive and territorial, and will attempt to urge people, dogs, etc., to move away from their nest or the tree it's in. I have personally been "buzzed" repeatedly by them while working on rooftops. Should you ever encounter them in this way, don't be afraid. Simply move along if you get concerned. They have no malice towards you. They don't want to harm or eat you. They just want you to go away. If they had a problem with human activity, they wouldn't nest amongst us. When I have been buzzed by them, I have never had them close enough to even reach out and touch them - or them, me. Rooftops are much closer to their nests than you would be by walking down the sidewalk.

Kites generally winter over in South America and return to Texas in May. While thought of as a southern raptor, they have been seen as far north as New England.

13 comments:

  1. They are returning now. TEXBIRDS has posted well over 2000 kites returning over the last 2 weeks and this evening my wife and I counted nearly 50 in groups of 5-7 flying over Magnolia Texas (40 Miles NW of Houston) after all the weather moved through about 5:00 pm.

    I have anxiously awaited their return and hope they nest here again this year. We love their acrobatic maneuvering as they gather up the cicada.

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  2. Might be a couple weeks before we start seeing them here in the panhandle. I anxiously await their return as well, and hope they pick a nesting spot close to the house.

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  3. A pair of kites nested in the front yard of my suburban Grapevine home last year. At the end of the season after raising their family, they migrated. They returned to the same nest just before Memorial Day this year. What a treat and it leaves me in constant amazement how they found the same site. Last year they buzzed me once while I mowed the yard. This year, they haven't bothered at all.

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  4. They are amazing critters. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Bill. :)

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  5. There are currently a few aggression studies being conducted at various universities in the south. It seems as though individual kites differ in their aggressiveness. Some are not aggressive at all while others have been recorded as knocking off hats or grabbing at hair. Texas Tech, in the past, has been notorious for such attacks. Even going so far as to post signs warning students and faculty of possible attacks.

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  6. Yes, they've returned, indeed, and they've made a huge nest atop the oak tree in my front yard at Colleyville. Not only that they fly in such an elegent manner but they also chirp with such an innocent sound. I welcome them back. They posted no threat last year, and I hope we will be peaceful neighbors this year and beyond.

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  7. Thanks for the pictures...I was able to identify the Kite in our tree in Flower Mound this morning. The one I saw grabbed a large branch from an oak tree & flew off with it!

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  8. Glad I could help. Beautiful raptors! Enjoy them.

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  9. Yep, now they are living around Eagle Mountain Lake, Northwest of Fort Worth. They have a very loud squill that is quite annoying.

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  10. I don't find them annoying at all. In fact, I rather enjoy hearing their "pit-TEWWwww!"

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  11. I had an injured Mississippi Kite Hawk in my yard this morning. I didn't realize it was a hawk until later this afternoon I saw it sitting up against the fence. I ran out an put a towel over it, placed it in a box and called the wildlife rescue in my area. I am in Alvin, Texas and I didn't know we had Mississippi Kite's. I met the wonderful lady that is going to try to nurse it back to good health. Thank God for the women and men that rescue injured animals, that give so much of themselves to save wildlife. I'm glad that I got to be a part of helping this magnificent animal. Hope to see you in the skies soon, my feathered friend.

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